As the academic year winds down and planning is under way for the new one, West Virginia University is expecting strong enrollment – with significant growth in minority student recruitment, a stable financial outlook and rising academic reputation, University officials told the Board of Governors Friday.

“It has been a transformational year,” President Jim Clements said, noting WVU had a record enrollment this academic year and applications are trending higher for next year.

“We are way ahead in minority applications and admits,” he said, with applications up 20 percent and admissions up 37 percent. Minority graduate applications and enrollment are also up, he said.

He also reviewed several achievements during the year, including record private giving, highlighted by a $34 million gift from Benjamin and Jo Statler to the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, and a donation from the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust that, when matched with state funds, provides a $10 million endowment for graduate education.

Donations are running well ahead of the same time last year, he said, indicating another record is in sight.

Clements noted the University’s move to the Big 12 athletic conference provides “a great natural set of peers to collaborate with across the entire University.”

“This move puts us in great academic company,” he said, “and gives us a national stage to talk about our academics, to develop partnerships and to recruit undergraduate and graduate students and faculty and staff.”

He called the board’s attention to policies proposing a ban on tobacco on the Morgantown campus and changes in sexual misconduct policies that have been posted for public comment. The board will consider the issues at a later meeting.

Clements also noted the success of EmployeeFest, a Division of Human Resources-sponsored health-themed event that drew more than 3,500 employees to the Erickson Alumni Center Thursday.

The Board heard an update on the 2020 Strategic Plan, which it approved last year.

“It will take steady momentum over the next several years (to implement the plan) and I think we’re off to a great start,” Clements said.

Provost Michele Wheatly and Health Sciences Chancellor Christopher C. Colenda, who co-chaired the process that developed the plan, provided the update.

The plans goals are:

The plan is being implemented through the creation of roundtables overseeing each area, Wheatly said.

The roundtables are “composed of leaders with experience and authority; determine the best course of action, metrics and targets; coordinate activities and increase communication; support and enact change,” she said.

Narvel Weese, vice president of administration and finance, briefed the board on budget preparations and said the University is benefiting from a strong economy and continued enrollment growth.

“The State of West Virginia allocated about $1,307,000 in new dollars for WVU, of which $1 million is earmarked to support the implementation of a new School of Public Health,” Weese said, with $277,000 provided to help offset a $2 million increase in the University’s share of health care insurance premiums and $30,000 provided to support existing programs.

But he noted that the state’s FY13 budget did not include funding to support a general salary increase.

Weese said budget-planners are considering proposing a 2 percent increase in the base salary pool to fund faculty and staff raises that would take effect in October, assuming enrollment remains stable.

Clements added that the administration hoped it would be able to provide the increase to strengthen recruitment and retention.

Weese said a $284 increase in resident student tuition is being considered for the next academic year and an $892 increase in non-resident tuition. Percentage-wise, the increases are on par with peer institutions, he said.

Clements noted that the University has already realized $12.4 million in savings or increased earnings through several initiatives such as replacing outdated utility equipment with new, energy-efficient models, resulting in $3.4 million in annual savings in energy and water consumption. Additionally, the University has selected a new workers compensation insurance carrier – a move which saves $600,000 annually while providing better coverage.

WVU Healthcare experienced its busiest year ever, Colenda said, and Ruby Memorial Hospital was at capacity on several occasions this winter, meaning patients could not be transferred from other hospitals.

During 2011, there were 22,737 surgeries, 1,359 births, 4,049 trauma patients, 1,307 helicopter transports and 92 bone marrow transplants.

Colenda and Clements noted that a planned $280 million expansion at Ruby would add 139 new beds and at least 750 jobs.

“We are celebrating great achievements at all schools at WVU Health Sciences,” Colenda said. “New leadership is in place in research, dentistry, nursing, medicine, public health and more. Our educational, outreach, clinical and research missions are being accomplished through the hard work of everyone at the Health Science Center and WVU Healthcare.”

Colenda praised the service learning of the students at the Health Science Center, noting that the School of Medicine, which is by far the HSC’s largest component, devoted 39,000 hours last year.

There are challenges on the horizon, however, he said.

“As we look forward, we must remain keenly aware of how changes in funding and the healthcare environment will impact our ability to balance these missions and preserve the integrity of our academic programs and facilities infrastructure,” he said. “Wise investments and making smart decisions are the challenges that will confront us in the future.”

He noted especially the outdated North Tower, which he said would cost at least $250 million to $300 million to replace, “and that’s an underestimation.” A new clinical facility for the School of Dentistry is also needed, he said.

Wheatly also briefed the Board on the coming accreditation process by the Higher Learning Commission, including a two-year self-study, which began last fall and will lead to a campus visit in the fall of 2013.

The Commission will look at five areas:

  • Mission.
  • Integrity including ethical and responsible conduct.
  • Quality, resources and support of teaching and learning.
  • Evaluation and improvement of teaching and learning.
  • Resources, planning and institutional effectiveness.

“I want to underscore the importance of this process and the huge amount of effort this takes across the University,” Clements said.

In other action, the panel approved a motion authorizing Chairman Drew Payne to negotiate and execute a personnel action discussed in executive session, including forwarding a Board resolution to the Higher Education Policy Commission.

The action deals with Clements’ contract, which must be approved by HEPC before it’s final. Once approved by HEPC, and signed by the president and Board chair, the terms of the amended contract will immediately be made public.

Payne and Clements commended Student Government Association President Jason Bailey, who serves on the BOG, for the student leadership’s reaction to the events of St. Patrick’s Day, when several fires were set around Morgantown and were featured on an online video site.

Bailey said the actions of that weekend do not reflect the entire student body and it’s unfortunate that they tend to overshadow the academic achievements of other student body members.

He urged that the response to such actions continue to be “student-driven because students do respond to students.”

The Board also:



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